Cthulhu Humor

Had to share.

A6b3lHi

Waka waka waka.

See more Vintage Photos here on Dark in the Dark.

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Vintage Photo Album – Keeping it Weird

Just keeping things weird around here with another round of weird vintage photos I found on eBay. This week, we have an awesome assortment of spirit photos. I love spirit photos!!! Click the links for more info on them.

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Mumm mumm I lub um wittle snookums. Hold still now little baby.
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Auction Ends: 5/12/13

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The not-so-lovely Lon Chaney Sr. and the lovely Renee Adoree from Tod Browning’s 1926 silent film, THE BLACKBIRD. What the heck is he doing?
Here
Auction Ends: Ends when it ends

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19th Century medium photo, attributed to Georgiana Houghton (another of her masterpieces is available for viewing here).
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Auction Ends: 5/12/13

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Another delight. I love how the chair back looks like bones thanks to the ghostly apparition.
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Auction Ends: 5/12/13

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Number 24 in a series by spiritualist John Beattie (more Beattie from my site, here).
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Auction Ends: 5/12/13

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Another John Beattie photo. This one with writing on the back.
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Auction Ends: 5/12/13

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Theda Bara! From the 1918 Fox film THE SOUL OF BUDDHA
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Auction Ends: 3/12/13

See more Vintage Photos here on Dark in the Dark.

Check this space for more weird photos on eBay.

*Best Search Ever*


darkinthedark does not claim copyright on these images. If you are the copyright holder and object to their presence here, please contact me and I will remove them.

Vintage Photo Album – Know When to Run

It’s important to know when to run. Here are a number of occasions when a monster knows that it’s time to get out while the getting is good, and be ambulatory about it.

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When Alice and her dolls look like a gathering storm, it is time to make for the horizon.
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Auction Ends: 5/4/13

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Boxing clowns? Run.
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Auction Ends: 4/24/13

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Jump out of his lap promptly when the funny bear says you are the cutest little girl he has ever eaten. Uh… Er… He means SEEN. Cutest little girl he has ever SEEN. And smelled. You smell good.
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Auction Ends: 5/4/13

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When the natives dive for cover. Rank beginners just stand there clinging to each other. Pros make for the exit.
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Auction Ends: 5/4/13

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When the monkey girl starts to dance, razzmatazz! I mean – uh – run!
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Auction Ends: 5/5/13

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When the woman next to you starts to scream, it might be time to move away from the giant hand.
Here
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On your first day in the orphanage, if the strangely friendly girls surround you from behind, and you hear the faint sounds of cutlery coming out of pockets, it might be too late to run, but you’re a fool not to at least try.
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Auction Ends: 5/4/13

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If the lady waiting in the courtyard has no visible feet, it’s time to heed the warnings that have been scratched into the wall above your bed. Run!
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Auction Ends: 5/6/13

See more Vintage Photos here on Dark in the Dark.

Check this space for more weird photos on eBay.

*Best Search Ever*


darkinthedark does not claim copyright on these images. If you are the copyright holder and object to their presence here, please contact me and I will remove them.

Häxan by Benjamin Christensen

haxan-lady

A proper subtitle for exploitation/witchcraft history film Häxan (1922) would be “Witchcraft as a Social Ill -or- Mistreatment of Women Through the Millennia.” I just had the chance to see Häxan on the big screen at the Hollywood Theater in Portland, thanks to Filmusik. As a fan of silent movies and dark subject matter, I’ve been wanting to catch this movie in the theater for a long time. It was awesome seeing this movie with not one, but two live bands to accompany it. For those interested, the bands were Jaggery and Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys.

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The title Häxan translates from Swedish (it’s a Swedish film) to Witch. The film is broken up into several parts. Haxan begins with an introduction to medieval beliefs about the nature of the universe. How the universe rotated around the Earth, how the stars hung from a ceiling that was held in the sky by columns, and how hell could be reached by digging. During this part, the movie resembles instructional films from the 1950s, featuring a pointer which intrudes from off-screen to show what the narrative is talking about (and the viewer becomes worried that the whole film is going to continue in this vein).

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It’s my opinion that this first part of the film was aimed at censors of the time with the goal of justifying what was to follow as “instructional.” Fortunately, a very sharp left turn is made, and Häxan gets lurid fast. The second part of the movie is about witches rites as they were believed to happen in the middle ages, and approaches the subject of witchcraft as a social ill, like poverty or crime: Lonely old ladies make potions from birds, toads, snakes, and rotting body parts of hanged criminals. Lonely younger ladies want the potions to seduce fat monks who have terrible table manners. Unfortunate babies are sacrificed. In a telling key scene, a conga line of witches stops one by one to kiss the behind of a gleeful devil.

oppression

Part three continues the theme of witchcraft as a social ill by highlighting the ways in which accusations of witchcraft were used to oppress women. Once accused of being a witch, a person was screwed. It probably isn’t news to anyone reading this review that most of the “tests” used to expose witches were double-binds like the famous water test. A witch was thrown into a river. If the water rejected her, and the witch floated, she was found guilty and would be burned at the stake. If she sank, then everyone was happy for the drowned woman, because at least she wasn’t a witch.

The final part of Häxan is a meditation on how some things that were identified by superstitious people in the dark ages as “witchcraft” may really have been other problems like kleptomania, sleepwalking, or “hysterical women”. This part uses several vignettes to show parallels between women with these social ills in the middle ages and modern times. The modern woman being much more fortunate in that she is institutionalized or drugged instead of being burned at the stake. One of the scenes here was of a modern woman being caught red handed for compulsively stealing a ring in a jewelry shop. The shop keeper demands that she follow him into his office, where the viewer expects him to extract a (most likely degrading) price for her freedom. Instead, he lets her go with a stern warning.

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The best thing about Häxan is the lurid chiaroscuro imagery that plays out in each part. Many of the scenes are like folk automata as they would have been designed by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Häxan is populated by monsters, devils, animal people, and witches. The witches run the gamut from crones to young damsels in distress and/or various states of undress. Although Häxan portrays women in a number of compromising and unflattering positions, the men in the movie are worse by far. With only a few exceptions (such as the jewelry store keeper), the men are monsters, devils, torturers, accusers, and murderous zealots.

Creepy Factor: 3 out of 5
Suspense Factor: 1 out of 5
Weird Erotic Tension Factor: 3 out of 5
Funny and/or Strange Factor: 5 out of 5

Final result: Without a doubt the most lurid (non-pornographic) silent film I know of, Häxan simultaneously enchants and bores. It caused a lot of outrage during its own time, and as a result it was widely banned or censored. Besides the scenery, the most interesting thing about Häxan is its angle on witchcraft as a historical social ill, and yeah – that’s kind of dry, sadly. If you get a chance to see it in a theater, I would recommend checking it out, especially if you can see it with a live band. But the restored Criterion Collection edition? Maybe it’s a pass.

Häxan – directed by Benjamin Christensen – 1922Haxan (The Criterion Collection) on Amazon.

Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau

Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau - Count Orlok

This month as part of Final Girl’s SHOCKTOBER, I decided to review F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent horror film, NOSFERATU.

It had been a large number of years since I had last seen this movie and it was an interesting exercise, because the version I saw all those years ago was definitely not the “ultimate” restored version created by KINO in 2007, which I had my rat army secure from Amazon. I ended up wondering if this is a case where the “old, unrestored” version wasn’t better. I just frankly do not remember the movie moving so slowly. Make of that what you will. It is a fact that, in 1922, people had much longer attention spans.

The story itself is based on DRACULA by Bram Stoker: A young man is sent by his employer to conclude a real estate deal with a vampire and unwittingly unleashes the monster on his fiancee and friends. Murnau changed the names, some of the details, and the ending. The changes did not fool Stoker’s widow, Florence, who sued for infringement. The court decided that all copies of the film should be destroyed. Luckily for us, they didn’t get all of them. NOSFERATU was Murnau’s tenth film, and all but three of these first ten are currently presumed lost. It says something about the movie that it has not only withstood 90 years of history, but also a destructive court order.

And the main difference between DRACULA and NOSFERATU? In DRACULA, the women are mostly clueless and the men save the day. In NOSFERATU the men are useless and a woman saves the day. In the climactic scene, Ellen sends her dull husband, Hutter, on a wild goose chase while she has an erotic encounter with the Count. But first Ellen and Orlok gaze at each other from their windows across the street. Both of them know that what they want isn’t exactly the best idea. And yet they can’t control themselves. Witness:

The shots speak for themselves. If this film had been made in 1999, Thora Birch would have shown the vampire her boobs. As it is, there is a lot of chest-grabbing going on.

Let’s apply the Six Stages of Vampirism to our movie, shall we?

The Six Stages of Vampirism

  1. Foreshadowing or Warning (see note a.)
  2. Seduction
  3. Victimization
  4. Denial/Obliviousness (see note b.)
  5. Discovery/Realization
  6. Kill It! or Help Me! or Blarg I’m Dead (see note c.)

a. Warnings must be delivered improperly. For example, a warning might be delivered by a tongueless, scab-covered hag who jumps out of an alley and mimes a dire warning before falling under an oncoming carriage and being trampled to death.
b. Steps one through four actually form a loop that repeats until steps five and/or six occur.
c. Vampire victims usually require the intersession of a third party and may or may not ever reach step 5 themselves.

When considered under the scientific glass of the Six Stages of Vampirism, it is interesting to note that although Hutter realizes that Count Orlok is a vampire, he remains unable to move into stage six. He makes it back home in time, but then flounders as his wife confronts the vampire. Let’s see the numbers.

Creepy Factor: 3 out of 5
Suspense Factor: 2 out of 5
Weird Erotic Tension Factor: 3 out of 5
Funny and/or Strange Factor: 5 out of 5

Final result: It is an inescapable fact that a particular attitude is required to enjoy silent movies. That attitude being: “I love how overblown every gesture is, and also the fact that this moves a little more slowly than the last Bourne movie I saw.” Whether you can swing that or not, NOSFERATU easily joins the great silent movies, and deserves its place among the greatest horror movies of all time. I recommend seeing it in a theater if possible, and (even more rare but possible) with a live accompaniment.

Some last items of note:

  • The 1979 remake by Werner Herzog is worth seeing.
  • Legend has it that Murnau considered Max Schreck ugly enough to play the monster with just fake teeth and pointy ears added, but thanks to the miracle of film restoration, one can see that prominent fake eyebrows were added as well.
  • In 2002 Jill Tracy and The Malcontent Orchestra released a recording of their accompaniment to the movie, titled Into the Land of Phantoms
  • Ellen’s Victorian-style banana curls certainly are distracting

Here is where I use my handy vampire classification for this movie.

Good Looking: No
Superhuman strength: Yes
Changeling: Yes
Sparkles: No
Erotic neck biting: Yes
Drink blood: Yes
Can turn victims into more vampires: Unknown
Must be killed by decapitation or stake through the heart: Unknown
Reflection in mirrors: Yes (Orlock casts a reflection in his final scene.)
Scared of crosses and/or garlic: Unknown
Burn in sunlight: Yes
Goth nightclub visit: No
Mind control: Yes
Ah! I love classifying vampires.

NOSFERATU, A Symphony of Terror – directed by F.W. Murnau – 1922
NOSFERATU on Amazon

The flying monkeys let our technician out for a minute and he snuck away into the light of day. Thanks for your patience during this difficult transition.
I ated Tinkerbell.

Fhtagn Spoken Here.

... the attic, a vast raftered length lighted only by small blinking windows in the gable ends, and filled with a massed wreckage of chests, chairs, and spinning-wheels which infinite years of deposit had shrouded and festooned into monstrous and hellish shapes.
The Shunned House
H.P. Lovecraft




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